Agency Law Enforcement Seeks Union Representation by PBA of New York
Sunday, May 01, 2011
SUNY, Park, and EnCon Police; and State Forest Rangers Initiate Replacement of Council 82
The Police Benevolent Association of New York State (PBA of New York State), a member-focused coalition of police officers representing the interests of approximately 1,200 members of the state agency law enforcement services (ALES) unit working at New York State’s public universities and colleges; state parks and historic sites; and across the state as environmental conservation officers and forest rangers today announced that they have taken the first steps toward seeking authorization to act on the officers’ behalf on matters ranging from contract negotiations to legislative affairs to local management grievances.
Through a process known as decertification, and under the oversight of the Public Employees Relation Board (PERB), members of ALES have organized a statewide effort to collect signed petition cards expressing their dissatisfaction with its current union, and requesting an election that would install PBA of New York State as the officers’ representatives. On Friday, 595 cards, representing more than 50 percent of the ALES membership, were filed at PERB’s Albany office. Under PERB rules, an expression from 30 percent of a union’s membership triggers a decertification vote and halts the contract ratification process. PBA Vice President James McCartney said, “The members’ action is both loud and clear and represented by their signatures on the decertification cards. In less than one week, members have initiated an action that demonstrates support from the majority of the unit. Their support is more than solid – it’s steadfast.” McCartney is a State University of New York police officer.
“Simply put, the members of state agency law enforcement have lost confidence in its current union; and are appropriately demanding a new voice and representation,” said Dan DeFedericis a former Troopers PBA president working with PBA New York State organizers. “Police officers from Western New York to Eastern Long Island are exercising their right to seek an election that would replace Council 82 with an independent union led and run by members of the Agency Law Enforcement Services Unit.” Dissatisfaction with Council 82 has been mounting in recent years, and reached a critical point last month when the union’s negotiators failed to involve ALES unit leaders in the final negotiations and it advanced a long-term proposal from the state without the negotiations committee’s knowledge of involvement.
Council 82 is presently led by Christian Mesley and James Lyman; both have long ties to the Albany Police Department (APD). Mesley is a member of APD; and Lyman is retired from the force. PBA President Manuel Vilar said, “The secret and backdoor deal that Council 82 tried slipping by its own members was an insult to the very officers that the union is supposed to represent.” Vilar is a Park Police Sergeant stationed on Long Island. “Despite the fact that these members of law-enforcement have been working without a contract since 2005, they have gone to work in good faith every day to serve and protect the people of New York,” said DeFedericis, “However, that same commitment was not being returned by their union representatives and that is both unacceptable and unprofessional. ALES members deserve and should expect more – and I can ensure you today that the PBA of New York will be committed to being a competent and honest union, which puts its member’s rights and needs first.
In a related action, PBA of New York announced that it has hired the well regarded law firm Gleason, Dunn, Walsh & O’Shea to serve as its general counsel and will handle its contract negotiations. The Albany-based firm has a significant history of representing the interests of law enforcement officers across the state. The firm assisted PBA of New York with its decertification filing.